We are in the midst of an epic media freak-out.
It is a subset of a larger liberal panic over Donald Trump’s strength in the general election. The mood of the center-left is, “America, how dare you?” Or, as a headline on a recent Thomas Friedman column put it, “Trump? How Could We?” The outraged incomprehension is seeping into and, increasingly, driving the coverage of the race.
The freak-out began a few weeks ago when Donald Trump started to close the polling gap with Hillary Clinton, and picked up intensity as the race essentially became a tie. Clinton’s debate victory on Monday will allay some worries, but assuming any bounce she gets is short-lived (pending the next debate and other events), the news media are going to be in a perpetual state of high anxiety and dudgeon until Election Day.
As Noah Rothman of Commentary magazine has noted, the press is playing catch-up, given that Trump crossed a crucial threshold when he wrapped up the Republican nomination. It didn’t take much foresight to realize that giving Trump $2 billion worth of free publicity in his primary battle might help him win it — and drastically increase his odds of becoming president.
Still, it was all fun and games as long as the ratings were good and Trump was trailing. As soon as the polls tightened, the press suddenly realized its conscience demanded it resist Donald Trump.
“This is not normal,” you’ll hear it said over and over about Trump (often correctly). But did anyone think it was normal when Trump said Ted Cruz was ineligible to run for president? Or questioned Ben Carson’s faith? It’s not as though Trump has gotten more wild since the primaries; in fact, he’s a little more disciplined. Nonetheless, according to an analysis by the Shorenstein Center, most coverage of Trump in the first half of 2016 was “positive or neutral in tone.”
Not anymore. There have been two seminal events in the freak-out. The first was the absurdly over-the-top criticism of Matt Lauer for not being tough enough on Trump at an NBC national security forum. Lauer couldn’t have satisfied his critics short of slapping Trump in the face and demanding, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” This was working the refs with all the subtlety of the great, if volatile, Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver, who would theatrically kick dirt on offending umpires.
The second was a New York Times “news analysis” on Trump’s disavowal of birtherism that was intended as an exemplary act of journalistic aggression. The Times has long run slightly stilted opinion pieces in its news pages, but this was different — a rhetorical assault worthy of the poison pen of Maureen Dowd that led the paper with the extremely hostile headline, “Trump Gives Up a Lie, But Refuses to Repent.”
The Times hadn’t been soft on Trump up to that point. The lead of the print edition has been almost the dedicated home for anti-Trump stories. Some of them have been quite valuable (no one denies the Times employs some very talented journalists). If all you read were those columns, though, you’d think the Trump campaign has been an unrelieved failure. Even so, the birther piece was a departure and a signal to the rest of the press: If it is OK for the Gray Lady to take off the gloves, you can do it, too.
Some of the anti-Trumpism in the press has been expressed in pointless and annoying gestures, such as CNN’s practice of fact-checking Trump’s statements in snarky chyrons. I’ll believe that this reflects the network’s disinterested pursuit of truth as soon as I see, say, a CNN chyron declaring: “Clinton: Tax Cuts Caused the Financial Crisis (They Didn’t).” Or, if I had seen a chyron in the primaries, “Trump: Cruz is ‘Lyin’ Ted’ (He’s Not).”
Have you heard that mindless braying Jackass Elija cummings little rant demanding they leave Hillary alone? Maybe Cummings needs a swift kick in their seat of his pants and his pride as well
USA TODAY’s Editorial Board: Trump is ‘unfit for the presidency’
For the first time in its 34-year history, the editorial board of USA Today have taken a position on a presidential candidate. September 30, 2016:
This isn’t a case of “liberal panic” folks. Serious concerns about the danger a Donald Trump presidency could represent to the nation cross the political divide. They’re shared by widely-respected conservatives and liberals alike. If you don’t believe that’s true, you’re not paying attention. THE MAN IS DANGEROUS. It’s almost as if the people who are supporting him aren’t even hearing what he’s been saying.
Trump’s reversals have become so extreme and frequent that people don’t even seem to notice. Under any normal circumstances, the first word coming to mind to describe this sort of behavior would likely be “erratic.” It’s been happening so often that it’s becoming suggestive of a symptom. Consider:
Donald Trump’s flip-flop on Angela Merkel is mind-boggling
How does one account for this? It’s clearly real. It’s clearly a pattern. It’s not something that the media is making up. What happens when erratic thought processes aren’t just a matter of words, but become the motivations behind presidential actions? Think about this question for a moment.
Standard Liberal Media tactics. Praise the “weak” candidate to the roof until he gets the nomination, then turn on him like a pack of rabid dogs until he is defeated in the general election.
They miscalculated, due primarily to the echo chamber in which the talking heads reside. Mr. Trump was not as weak with ordinary people as they thought.
Hillary was nominated despite her glaring faults because the Democrats expected to get another oh-so-cultured milquetoast as the Republican candidate as usual, who wouldn’t dream of pointing out a womyn’s faults.
Instead they got a tough old alleycat, and they don’t know how to respond effectively.
So they bring out the old tactics of lies, mud and flame, only to discover that Mr. Trump is impervious, because the ordinary people like alleycats.
This is fun.
So, what could possibly be dangerous about electing an extention of the past 8 years by choosing the woman this year?
Obama vs the 1st Amendment
Aside from mrs clintions documented flaws and lack of ethics, she is an evil person, who like the current pResident, both alinsky devotees, hate America…….
Hillary should never again be allowed to possess US governmental power.
Never. She is corrupt, she is a liar and she is a criminal.
Say all you want about “birtherism” it’s still a fact that there are highly believable youtube presentations that seem to show the White House posted long form birth certificate to be in nine CGI layers.
Beware when those on one side of the argument who demand people on the other side just shut up. If their arguments are so out there…why not just destroy them in open debate?
Oh me, oh my I see visions of the playing War of the Worlds, where on election night the Hard core Alinsky devotees seeing state after state fall leap from windows, grab credit cards and flee to Canada.
I see visions of a distracted, clueless, egocentric reality television host bumbling about the White House making incomprehensible comments and pronouncements, while multiple bad actors on the geopolitical stage make their moves one after the other, each using the crisis another is creating elsewhere as cover.
We could well see a watershed moment in American and world history, dividing things into pre-Trump and post-Trump eras. All it would take is someone in the White House who’s not experienced or skillful enough to carefully balance and moderate their responses as multiple crises unfold. Here’s one simple scenario: Putin moves on Ukraine, as Iran moves troops into Iraq. North Korea decides this provides an ideal opportunity to move troops south across the demilitarized zone. Maybe China simultaneously decides it’s finally time to assert their sovereign authority over Taiwan. There are more possibilities and variations on this scenario than you could shake a stick at.
I don’t think Trump has a clue how complex and hair-triggered multiple geopolitical danger points actually are. I believe he thinks geopolitical strategy and tactics really are like those involved in running a business. He truly doesn’t know how much he doesn’t know.